“Some guys do rubber ducks, some guys do tattoos.” It was with these words Peter Moore (back then Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Xbox division) underlined the fiery competition the new generation of consoles found themselves in. The release of the Playstation 3 was around the corner and with all its advanced tech, often demonstrated by using rubber ducks in simulations, there was a lot at stake for the Xbox 360. A couple of years earlier, Moore famously revealed the next installment in the Halo franchise by revealing a tattoo in his right arm. For the reveal of Rockstar Games’s Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV), he sacrificed his other arm.
Changing the landscape. Literally.
The reveal was just that. A reveal. No gameplay was shown. But Grand Theft Auto IV was confirmed to be coming to the Xbox 360, along with some (timed) exclusive episodic content. A release date was mentioned in the announcement but in true Rockstar fashion, that date was pushed back a few months. As a result, Grand Theft Auto was released on 29th of April 2008. Today, that game is turning 10 years old.
GTA IV redefined the open world genre in profound ways. While retaining the sadistic, parodical sense of humor, the game was now much more grounded in realism. The increased realism allowed for a narrative darker of tone along with a surprisingly amount of depth, unknown for the series at the time. The game took an intense leap forward graphically and further refined gameplay and mechanics. While Rockstar ditched a slew of features that were introduced in San Andreas (like car modifications and character customization features), they did so because those would not feel right in this universe and thus not contribute to the overall look and feel the developers were trying to achieve.
From rags to riches.
It goes without saying GTA IV was a financial success, breaking multiple industry records. Selling over eight million copies in the first month of its release. Recently the now ten year old game was a hot topic of discussion again, as a unannounced patch removed a lot of music in the game due to expiring license deals. To make up for the removal, Rockstar released another patch that added new music to the game.
To stay on the topic of removing in game assets, GTA Series Videos released a video to commemorate the release of GTA IV by analyzing beta screenshots and video files. This way the crew and fans were able to determine how to game changed during early development. Quite interesting! You can check it out below. When you reminisce about GTA IV, what is your fondest memory? I’m interested to know so feel free to share with me in the comments below.